R4-series Astromech Droid
Flushed with the success of their landmark R2 launch, Industrial Automaton rushed to capitalize on their new dominance of the astromech droid market. The R4-series agromech droid was a highly successful attempt to capture a new market prospect—the Outer Rim urbanite who was more likely to have a souped-up landspeeder parked in their garage than an X-wing. Accordingly, the R4 agromech droid was designed for life outside the pristine hangar bay. It is simpler, tougher, and cheaper than previous R3-series models. The droids are rugged; able to shrug off the nicks and dents common to a working garage environment as well or better than other R-droids. With regular maintenance checks, the R4 can easily outlast its design parameters for operational life, weather endurance, personality matrix stability, and time elapsed between recharge sessions.
The R4 has the same outward appearance of an R2 or R3 droid below the neck, but to save money on production, items such as the video display screen and miniature fire extinguisher were omitted. The holographic projector/recorder unit is retained, but relocated to the top of the head dome to allow for use of a cheaper, less miniaturized unit with a smaller rotational axis. The droid's Intellex VI computer is advanced, but geared toward common repulsorcraft designs and specs for commercially available space transports. The computer brain is designed with more space between the components, lowering production costs, but requiring a larger head dome, and likewise eliminated many of the function indicators and gadgetry found on other R-series head domes. The R4 is unsuited to the task of starfighter astromech however; it can (without modification) only hold the coordinates for a single hyperspace jump in its astrogation buffer, a one way trip for any fighter jock. As a result, many R4s have been modified with the more expensive R2-series head to give them the best features of the R2 and R4 series.